Okay let’s do this. So we’re DLP veterans, 50 park days over 12 years. However we only ever visit in low season so that does bias our experience on crowds somewhat.
As you’ve probably seen, opinions do vary, but as our repeat visits suggest, we absolutely love Disneyland Paris. It’s our ‘home’ Disney and will always have a special place in our hearts.
It’s beautiful, that’s one of the key things many say about it, that it’s the most beautiful of them all. I only went to WDW as a kid so can’t really remember enough to compare, but we love it.
It has two parks, as you probably know. Disneyland Park is substantially smaller than the Magic Kingdom, but otherwise it’s very similar in layout. The hub and spoke model around the Castle, in this case it’s Sleeping Beauty’s. And a big difference is you can go in, and under the castle. Inside you’ll find shops, and then the floor above is a room with the story of Sleeping Beauty in stained glass and tapestries, it’s magical. But best of all are the secret caves under the castle where the 60ft dragon lives, and breathes! Scared our kids when they were little, but the good kind of scare that makes them want to go back again and again!
The Studios Park is probably similar in size to Florida’s, but it has what seems like a much more comprehensive Toy Story Land, although the Slinky ride is just a circular ride, nothing like SDD.
The tram tours used to be a big part of the site but has been under refurbishment forever, it was very outdated in parts. This is where new big rides are rumoured to be added in the big expansion, and like Florida, it needs it. The soon to be coming to WDW Ratatouille ride and Crush Coaster are exceptional though.
In terms of size the huge bonus is that pretty much EVERYTHING is walkable.
Have a look at that map and you can see how the Disneyland Park and Studios are just a three minute stroll from each entrance. As is the Village. The deluxe hotels are all within a ten minute walk, and even moderate and value can be done, although buses are a good alternative. It’s all really close together, which we love.
So in terms of timing, you could do Disneyland Park in a day, and Studios in half a day if you really pushed it. But we take five days, and enjoy it all properly with some rest time in there too. Three would be a minimum I’d recommend to anyone.
A few key differences too, it has the old style fastpass system where you just get a physical ticket, although they are just starting to explore purchasable FP upgrades, so watch for that. Crowd levels when we go are super low, although noticeably peak at weekends. But it’s definitely got busier over the years as has WDW. But Jan to March, there are really quiet days with almost no queues. We’ve ridden Peter Pan five times in a row before. So in terms of best time to visit, that’s all I can recommend. Just google French school holidays and avoid those. UK ones too if you can.
Another huge difference is your hotel package includes your park tickets. You can buy hotel only places but by default most of the deals are full packages. You can imagine my shock when I found out this wasn’t the case in WDW… Prices continue to rise but we’ve had four nights in a hotel, five nights park tickets for £700-800 for a family of five, regularly.
A great trick that I should probably post about in another thread is you can search for the best deals across all the Disney Europe sites. UK is often the best but before I’ve bought them from France or Germany and got 40% off the headline prices. European law means you have to be allowed to do this. Just change the language and then use Google translate to figure out what’s going on. It’s often worth it for the big savings, or free dining. Offers vary hugely from country to country.
As far as translation, that’s all you’ll ever need. Every cast member speaks good English. And yes, they probably aren’t as over the top friendly as I’m sure the US cast members are, but on the whole in all our time we’ve only ever encountered a couple of sour ones. It’s still VERY Disney, just perhaps 8/10 rather than 12/10.
The one time language is an issue is some rides. English is very, very widely catered for but there’s just a few like the bizarrely macabre Snow White ride that’s all in French. I like that, that it’s not completely Anglicised. Shows have a mix of French and English, our kids have never struggled with it at all, it’s done well.
There is definitely the Disney Bubble experience too, but it’s just a little less strong then WDW as far as I can see. This might be because of the very cool fact that the whole resort has a mainline train terminal at the heart of it. So it brings the outside world into the area a bit more. You get street hawkers selling cheap glow Eiffel towers in between the parks and the Disney Village, as the shopping and food area is called.
The other factor with the train station right in the centre is that Paris is just 40 minutes away on a cheap train ride - an all day unlimited ticket into Paris with the metro, is 18 euros, and there are often deals on those for example free for kids.
Every few years we’ll take advantage of that and take a day out to visit Paris, which is a stunning city. But actually my favourite use of the train is to take it just one stop, and get off at the also Disney owned Val D’Europe mall, which is huge and very French, with lots of good restaurants, and also an enormous ‘Auchan’ hypermarket where we fill up on wonderful cheap french food and wine and everything we could want. It’s a major part of our holiday there.
Personally in recent years we love to drive to Disney, just because of the freedom it offers. And so we stay at the Davy Crockett lodge, which offers good value accommodation for up to 6 adults. Something we plan to check out soon is the new half owned by Disney ‘Villages Nature’ which is a self contained villa park with giant indoor water park and heated outdoor lagoon. You can get packages that include park tickets with a stay there too, and it’s quite unusual compared to anything else Disney does I think.
I hope that’s been useful, do fire back any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.